Lewiston-based accounting firm Presnell Gage is in the process of notifying about 100 individuals or companies that their information may have been hacked during a data breach in the past month, and fraudulent tax returns filed.
Philip Nuxoll, managing member of the firm, said Tuesday his office was notified Aug. 18 by the Internal Revenue Service that some returns were filed using the firm’s identification number without authorization.
“What we’ve got are about 100 returns we know that Social Security numbers and names have been filed with the IRS” that were counterfeit, Nuxoll said. “We have been in contact with the IRS, criminal investigators and the FBI to deal with that. We are in the process of identifying any other clients whose information might be accessed and we are providing them with a credit monitor that includes $1 million of insurance coverage to them.”
Presnell Gage represents a number of local governmental entities and school districts. Nuxoll said while none of those entities have been compromised, the firm is working to determine whether employees’ names and other personal information may have been involved in the security breach.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen issued a news release and a YouTube video Tuesday urging tax professionals to take steps toward guarding their data and protecting clients from identity theft.
Koskinen said cyber criminals are increasingly targeting such offices and data. The video spotlights a campaign to raise awareness about cyber criminal activity and provide tax professionals with the information to improve safeguards.
Nuxoll said he is aware of other accounting firms that have had security breaches but declined to discuss the matter further.
Presnell Gage hired an information technology firm to investigate the incident and secure its system as soon as the breach was detected, Nuxoll said. He expressed confidence in his firm’s ability to safeguard its client information going forward.
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and most of our chain is pretty doggone strong,” he said.
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